Random aggravations

Herein I vent on a variety of subjects, because I’m cranky and I want to. These are the things that make my eyes widen, and cause me to wonder – sometimes aloud, and profanely – what, if anything, people were thinking.

1) Driving: there’s a lot to vent about here, but I’ll try to keep it short. (I know – me, keeping it short?? Wonder of wonders.)

…a) If you’re in a lane that’s going to endin a few hundred yards, and I’m in the one that isn’t – in other words, I’m not being stupid – don’t try to fly past me and get in front of me. My response to your idiocy will be to catch up to the car in front of me and ignore you. Because you’re an idiot and should have merged over several minutes ago – or if you’ve driven this road more than twice before you should have known the lane was going away and not been in it in the first place.

…b) Turn. Your. Damn. Lights. On. If it’s raining, or it’s getting near dusk, or even if there are just a lot of trees along the road, turn them on. You may be the center of your own stupid universe, but, especially if your stupid vehicle is dark, it’s hard to see in some situations. Just do it.

…c) Use your signals. If you are stupid enough to violate a., but you signal – thereby *asking* to cut in front of me – I might let you. (Robin Hood quote: “Ask me nicely.”) And if you’re turning, there shouldn’t be any question – especially if you’re in front of me and decide you need to go left. If you come to a stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason, I am going to blow my horn, because you’re an idiot. Also, signal if you’re planning to turn left at a light, particularly if there are two lanes, and most particularly if there isn’t a left turn arrow – so that I will not be stuck behind your stupid non-signalling … back end. Again, you may be the center of your own moronic universe, but I – thanks be to God – can’t read your excuse for a mind. Signal. It might save your worthless life someday.

…d) Conversely, if you signal a turn and then change your mind and don’t turn after all (or it’s a shallow turn), make sure the signal goes off, ‘kay? I remember a comedian (though not who it was) doing a riff on this years ago, mentioning that that clicking noise you hear isn’t just the rattling of your pea brain in your otherwise empty skull – it’s connected to that little blinking arrow on your dashboard. This isn’t as egregious an error as the others, because at least it offers some amusement on an otherwise grim drive – it is slightly funny to see some fool turn right after having signalled a left turn for the last mile – but it can also be truly irritating: WHEN are you going to turn?? Or are you? Ever?

A subsection of d) (d.1) is the moron who doesn’t know quite where he’s going, but knows it’s on the left here somewhere, so he crawls along at fifteen miles per hour, ideally with that signal blinking away. If you don’t know what you’re doing, pull the hell over – especially if I’m not the only one behind you. Get out of the way, let the rest of us get on with our lives, and *then* figure out where you’re supposed to be.

…e) Two words: Cell phones. I hate them anyway, but folks, in one of a long line of legislations that try to enforce common sense, it’s illegal to use a cell phone in a moving vehicle in Connecticut. If I see you using your phone, I hate you.

… …e.1) One word: texting. Text, and die. Just don’t take me, or any other innocent, with you.
Those are the big ones in this category for the moment. I’m sure others will come to me. Probably after I get on and off the road again.

1.a) Parking. Do it right. Take up one space, and at least try to get in the middle of it, not all the way over to one side or the other. I’m not the best parker in the world, but I *try*. Rather more often than I’d like to admit I’m crooked, but I always make sure the people next to me can get in and out. So many cars look like the driver was swatting at a hornet that was flying in his face when he put it in park. Particularly if it’s a busy day wherever you’re dumping your vehicle: one car, one space. And then there are the fancy-schmancy expensive things that someone was so afraid would be touched by some other human or human-powered agency that they park it purposely across a couple of spaces. If you’re that afraid, do what the other people with more money than brains, but at least small brains, do: leave it at the far end of the lot. Or, better yet, if you’re that afraid of scratches or dings, then buy the expensive car, and put it in a large climate-controlled display case in your yard – and get a clunker to actually drive around in. And, finally on the subject, not so much an annoyance – it’s no skin off my nose (and where does *that* phrase come from?) if someone wants to make more effort for himself – but a mystery: why is it that when there are two spaces together, end to end, at least half the drivers I’ve seen don’t pull through? You pull into a parking space. The one in front of you is empty. Why not drive another eight or ten feet, and set yourself up so that all you have to do when you leave is … drive? But no – a great many people treat the yellow lines around the spaces like walls, and pull into the one space, and stop – and then as often as not they *back out* when they’re leaving. I don’t get it.

2) Work related aggro: freight companies. In my last job, I had no choice but to learn the ins and outs of scheduling freight pickups. Sadly, the current job is the same, only moreso. They’re one of the banes of my existence, and the fact that scheduling pickups is such a huge part of this job is further proof that the harder I try to take a new path the more firmly I’m set on the same tedious soul-killing road. I compared it once to being like a lab rat being taught a maze: try to take a branching path, and get zapped. >zzt< Bad lab rat. Don’t deviate.

Anyway.

There’s really only one issue I have with freight companies, but it’s huge, and it should be so simple. If I call in for a pickup between 1:00 and 4:00, it’s because – shockingly – I want you to come and pick up between 1:00 and 4:00. Well, no, really it’s because I want you to come between 1:00 and 5:00; experience taught me pretty quickly that lying through your teeth is the only way to get a pickup at a reasonable time. Tell them the truth – that, for my old job, shipping closes at 4:30, will just result in drivers showing up sometime around 5:00, causing the guy in the shipping department to stay an extra half hour (plus the time needed to load the truck), which is – horrors – overtime. Not only does it annoy the guy in shipping, but God forbid there should be an extra $5 spent in the course of the day to cover that overtime. Before I learned the art of lying to the freight companies, I was thoroughly reamed about this – so I started saying we closed at 4. Then, when that still wasn’t enough margin and trucks still started showing up at 4:45 and 5, I started saying 3:30. Now it’s the same – we close at 5, I tell ’em 4, and they STILL show up at 5:15 … Last night it was “Could you call New Penn and find out if they’re coming?” *sigh* “Hi – I scheduled the pickup this morning, close time as 4, it’s 4:45, what the hell?” “He’ll be there in half an hour – he’s a new driver.” Right. The last two times this happened, with two other companies in the past two weeks, it was mechanical failure. Riiiight. The funny thing is that if and when the driver actually does show up, he often has another story entirely. When New Penn got here – at about 5:10 – “he said he was here early to pickup around lunch time and that we were closed”. So now I’m supposed to add to every pickup request the note that we are closed for lunch between 12 and 1. This is ridiculous in so many ways … First, what are you doing coming before the scheduled time of 1:00? Am I in fact wasting my time when I type in those numbers which are apparently meaningless? If you’re not late, you’re early – or, in the case of last night, both. Second, it says on the bleeding sign I had made up for the bleeding dock door that we are closed for lunch – if you get here and see this, then sit in your stinking cab for twenty minutes till the doors get opened again. It’s *lunchtime* – what the hell do you expect? Third, if you attempt a pickup and can’t do it – because of your own stupidity or some other cause – and you find you can’t get back to that stop – whether because you don’t feel like it or because you were stupid enough to go on with your schedule and now you’re in Coventry – then you need to call me. Or call your dispatcher if you’re a coward and have him call me. If you call me and tell me that you or I or your mother upon your conception made a mistake or the truck broke down or you’re new and stupid and slow or there’s a tornado on I-91 and that you won’t be able to get here, I will be a great deal less pissed off than I will if you don’t call.

3) Local news-gathering organizations. Not just WTNH, about whom I think my opinion is pretty clear – all of them.

…a) Traffic reports. Why do they bother? This isn’t quite as relevant to me any more, praise be, because I don’t need to get on the highway any more. But for much of my working life I did, and I listened to the morons on tv and the radio talking about the traffic problems of the day – and I don’t think there was ever a time when problems I encountered, major or minor, were mentioned on those in-depth reports. They generally concentrate on the commute to and from the northern half of the state, despite the fact that the station we watch is the only one in the south. One memorable occurrence was when I worked in Madison, over half an hour from home. My route included taking I-91 South to I-95 North. That particular morning I saw that 91 was even more congested than usual, but had no idea why – there had been no mention of any problem whatsoever on the morning news inanity or on the radio. This was before I had a cell phone (I held off as long as I could – I think I mentioned I hate cell phones), so there was nothing I could do but inch along until finally I got within a quarter of a mile of the entrance to 95N. And it was closed. In all the years I had to drive 91 and 95, that was the only time that happened – it was pretty major – and it had to have happened early enough for the traffic bozos to be able to report it in time for me to take back roads – and yet there was no mention whatsoever by anyone whose job it was apparently supposed to be to make people’s commutes easier. I think I got to work about two and a half hours late that day, and furious.

…b) If they know they’re doing a story about someone’s arrest, and they’ve sent some fool cameraman off to get in everyone’s way to get footage of the arrest-ee being taken off in cuffs, why is it that they rarely have enough footage to cover the story? As the anchorperson natters on about, for example, the crime and the arrest and what led to the arrest, on the screen they show the store that was robbed for a couple of seconds, and then two seconds of the store owner looking mournful, then three seconds of the glass from the broken window scattered on the sidewalk, then five seconds showing the bad guy being taken out of the police car at the station with his jacket pulled over his head because he’s an idiot … which totals 12 seconds of images, and meanwhile the *scripted* story is going on for thirty seconds, so they start over again and show the store, the store owner, the glass, the bad guy – and start over again. And again. I never will understand why someone can’t get a better estimate of how long the *scripted* story will be – I know movie folk do it all the time: so many lines of script mean so many minutes – and therefore how much footage they need to run behind it. But I see them run the same brief loop of meaningless film three and four times, on a regular basis. Why?

… …b.1) Do we really need the footage? Do we really need you standing out in front of a building where something happened six hours ago, leaving no mark on the premises? Do we really need some poor schmoo standing out in the hurricane to prove to us it’s a hurricane, or standing thigh-deep in water to prove it’s a flood?

…c) The misspellings I’m covering when they come up, as I see ’em; I was driven to start my posts to vent about them because it’s been a regular, ongoing problem with WTNH for many years. It’s embarrassing. *They* should be embarrassed. (It’s not as bad as the misspelling I caught on CSI one night – some computer readout had some stupid mistake I can’t remember – but it’s much more frequent.) What is, in a way, even worse is something my brother commented on last night – “Wait – Jimmy’s a child molester??” Referring to those times – those alarmingly frequent times – when the anchor will be reading one story while they show a photo or footage relating to another story entirely. Sometimes it’s just silly – but other times it can be damaging, such as when they’re talking about an arrest or conviction and showing a person unrelated to that crime. If the viewer is paying as little attention to what’s going on as the production staff, and just happens to look up at that point, they could come away with a drastically wrong impression. I have no concept of the process of putting together a newscast – most of the information I have is from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. But I would think that the things I’m talking about, all the many and varied stupid mistakes, would be something they would try very hard to avoid. Granted, it’s a fairly large undertaking that has to fill an hour and a half of airtime every evening, plus mornings and noon-time. There are a lot of pieces to assemble for the puzzle. But the mistakes are so very common that I can’t think too highly of the puzzle-builders’ abilities.

…d) The mangling of the future tense. Instead of “is going to”, it’s always – no matter who, no matter at what time – ALWAYS “gonna be”. “So, Geoff, the weather gonna be warm tomorrow.” “Jets gonna be playing in Milwaukee tonight.” It’s the most amazing thing. If it was one person, I could chalk it up to poor education or socialization and roll my eyes at it. It’s not. They all do it. On particularly cranky evenings, when my nerves have already been rubbed raw by, most likely, moron freight companies and anencephalous drivers, if the windows are open I can be heard yelling at the tv “IS!! IS going to be, you jackass! For the love of William Safire say it! IS!!”

4) Since I mentioned them – cell phones, of all sorts.

…a) Bluetooth. I was at the grocery store the other day, going to get a cart, and this woman walked in talking. To herself. Carrying on an animated conversation with an invisible friend. The thingamabob, the earpiece, must have been on the other side of her head – or she really was as schizophrenic as she appeared. My old evil boss would occasionally stop in mid sentence, reach up to his ear, and then start talking. I always resisted the urge to call him Lieutenant Uhura, and I’m now glad I did, because I never would want to insult Nyota that way. I suppose it’s just my own hang-up, but I don’t think I would ever want Bluetooth for just that reason: I wouldn’t want to look bat-#$@! crazy in public.

…b) In cars. I may have gently alluded to this earlier.

…c) In grocery stores and such. Why? Mom tells a story about one day when she went with me to the store and didn’t feel like going in; she saw a young woman pull into a parking space across the way, on her phone; she stayed on the phone as she climbed out and wandered into the store, and was still or again on the phone when she came out a while later, got back in the car, and pulled away. (Did I mention that’s illegal? And stupid? I might have.) Why? I feel like Miracle Max when I ask, what is so important? I can’t usually even count the number of people I pass in the grocery store aisles who are maundering away on their phones. The fun part is that a lot of them can’t drive a cart while on the phone any better than they can drive a car in like position; I’ve been run into a few times and almost run into many times because some fool couldn’t tear the phone away from their head in order to steer properly. If you need to call and find out if we needed lettuce, fine, whatever – I’ve done that, of course. But why would you even want to carry on a lengthy conversation wandering around in public?

…d) In movie theaters. One word: don’t. One more word: OFF. Three more words, quoting a dead terrorist puppet: “I keel you.” There should be damping devices installed in all auditoriums: your phone simply will not work while your butt is in a movie theater chair. If you’re that paranoid about the call you might miss – from your baby-sitter, or your patients, or your significant other – don’t go. Or make sure your baby-sitter, or your answering service, or whatever, has the telephone number for the theater, so that you can be tracked down if you’re needed. Movies are expensive. Don’t screw it up for everyone else. (There should also be damping devices in cars. A cell phone should not operate if the car is in motion. Period.)

…e) While you should doing something else not mentioned above – like paying attention in a meeting. Or school. Or a conversation. There are plenty of rants out there on the etiquette of talking on the cell phone … All I have left to say is to reiterate: I really do hate the things.

5) Minor annoyance: non-Googlers. A few minutes ago I referred to Nyota, and had a vision of someone posting a comment asking who or what Nyota was. (Not that hardly anyone leaves comments, but still.) It’s something I’ve never understood, something that used to spark a bit of snarkiness on the Boards Which Shall Remain Nameless. Some twit – well, a lot of twits – would post something along the lines of “Who was originally cast to play Aragorn?” To which at least one person would reply “Google is your friend.” It happens a lot, on various topics – someone is either sitting on a webpage with a comment button or a message board, and doesn’t understand something, and … asks. Or, better, someone purposely goes to a website like the BWSRN, and asks. Um. You’re on the internet. The internet has a lot of information available at the click of a button. Why would you not try to fend for yourself? WWW.Google.com. Or, better, www.goodsearch.com. You can even just type in your question as if you were talking to the Enterprise computer. For fun I just copied and pasted “Who was originally cast to play Aragorn?” (without the quotes). Result: 4012 entries, and the preview of the very first one says “Aragorn is a noble man who has fought with his own concern as to whether he will … Originally, Stuart Townsend was cast to play Aragorn, but appeared too young for the role …” Gosh, that wasn’t hard. Look it up. It doesn’t take any special skill, and you might learn something. (A related nuisance is the children of all ages (but only one level of thought capacity) who frequently go to the BWSRN and I’m sure others like it and look for help with their homework. Some of them come right out and say they have a paper due; others just ask questions that make it obvious. Like “Why are riddles so fundamental to a common culture?” I sincerely doubt that the person who formulated that question was the same one who wrote the post that follows it – it’s pretty juvenile, where the question is not.

6) Work email: if you say you’re going to email me, email me. (Or fax – but it’s usually email.) If you don’t plan on it, don’t say you’re going to. If you planned to and find you don’t need to, shoot me a line that says “Never mind!” Don’t make me call you back to find out what’s going on.

OK. I think I’m done. For now. I feel slightly better. I can’t bitch about what I really want to bitch about, as there are personalities involved, but this will do to vent the steam. Is it Friday yet?

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